Loading Dock

Definition - What does Loading Dock mean?

A loading dock, also called a loading bay, is an area of a warehouse or other building where a truck or other vehicle loads or unloads material.

They are typically designed to facilitate efficient interaction with a specific type of vehicle or range of vehicle types.

Safeopedia explains Loading Dock

The transport of materials to and from the loading dock can expose workers to a wide variety of potential hazards. These include general hazards associated with the movement of hazardous materials, ergonomic injuries, and forklift accidents, as well as site-specific accidents related to the loading bay structure itself. Because loading bays are used in a variety of different contexts, the specific hazards that apply to them can vary significantly depending on the industry that they are servicing.

Loading docks are often an environment in which workers must perform a variety of irregular tasks, making them a significant site for workplace hazards. They are the site of one-quarter of all workplace accidents, and the wide range of activity that occurs around them means that they are subject to a variety of intersecting hazard regulations and standards.

One of the most heavily regulated activities in loading dock areas is the use of forklifts and other powered industrial trucks. Forklifts are the most common cause of OSHA safety citations in loading docks, as well as a major cause of accidents. Seven percent of all loading-dock accidents are caused by forklifts falling from the dock—an accident which can easily result in injury or death. Loading docks also feature many regulations related to hazard visibility; for example, employers must put visual edge markers or install guardrails at the edge of loading docks depending on their height from the ground.

A common loading-dock-specific hazard is “trailer creep,” which occurs when the forces generated from loading or unloading activity causes a trailer to separate from the dock. The resulting separation can present a fall hazard to pedestrians and forklift operators entering and exiting the truck, or if the separation is sudden enough, it can cause an accident directly. Because of the dangers that can occur due to the unexpected separation of a trailer from loading bays, semi-trailers and other loading vehicles are subject to a variety of behavioral and equipment standards that are designed to ensure that the trailer remains securely fastened to the loading dock while in active use.

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